Announcing a brand new tour for Kasu Tours:
THE LUXURY TOUR OF THE LESSER-KNOWN RAJASTHAN
The final itinerary and cost will be published soon, but here is a taste of what is to come.
This time we explore the lesser-known regions of north west Rajasthan, staying in gorgeous former palaces and mansions. (Might have to dress up for dinner!)
The dining room of one of our hotels.
Our tour begins in Jaipur, known as ‘the pink city’ , the capital and the largest city of Rajasthan. We taketour with a local guide to visit some of the famous local monuments including Hawa Mahel, Jantar Mantar, the Anokhi Museum, Amber Fort and the Monkey Temple.
We also visit a sanctuary for retired working elephants in a nearby village where we can get up close, feed and maybe paint their faces or help them bathe. We also enjoy a traditional village meal with our hosts.
Leaving Jaipur in our private luxury bus, we head for an amazing step-well traditionally used to conserve and store water and for public baths. It was dug approximately 30 metres and 13 stories into the ground, making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India. Work began on this step-well in about 800AD and it was completed about 100 years later.
Our next destination is a town in the centre of the Shekhawati area where we spend five days exploring the region famous for its abandoned havelis (mansions) extensively painted with murals.
A painted haveli in Churu
This area was once a part of the silk road that extended from China to the Mediterranean. Merchants made their wealth sending their goods on camels along the silk road, and built mansions, temples and step-wells, vying with each other in building ever more grand edifices. They commissioned artists to paint their homes as a sign of opulence, decorating both inside and outside with painted murals. The area is now known as ‘the outdoor art gallery’. The art of painting the havelis was kept alive for nearly 300 years. However, when shipping became available and a faster way of getting their goods to the world, the merchants abandoned the havelis and moved to Bombay or Kolkata.
We also enjoy a tour of local crafts and visit a local farm.
Junagarh Fort, Bikaner
Next we head to Bikaner, a city surrounded by the Thar Desert. We will visit the 16th-century Junagarh Fort, a huge complex of ornate buildings and halls. Within the fort, the Prachina Museum displays traditional textiles and royal portraits.
Bikaner is also famous for miniature paintings and we will visit a third generation artist in his studio.
Whilst in the area, we visit a temple dedicated to Karni Mata (1387 – 1538) a female Hindu warrior sage. She is worshiped as the incarnation of the warrior goddess Durga by her followers and is an official deity of the royal families of Jodhpur and Bikaner. She lived an ascetic life and was widely revered during her own lifetime.
Karni Mata Temple is also known as the Temple of Rats. The temple is famous for the approximately 25,000 black rats that live and are revered in the temple.
Legend has it that Laxman, son of Karni Mata, drowned in a pond in while he was attempting to drink from it. Karni Mata implored Yama, the god of death, to revive him. First refusing, Yama eventually relented, permitting Laxman and all of Karni Mata’s male children to be reincarnated as rats.
Some of the best fed rats in the world.
In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade with solid silver doors. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.
It is said that eating food that has been nibbled on by the rats is considered to be a high honour. But we won’t do that! For the squeamish, entering the Rat Temple is optional.
In the blue city
We continue our journey to the city of Jodhpur, historically the capital of the Kingdom of Marwar, which is now part of Rajasthan.
Set in the stark landscape of the Thar Desert, it is popularly known as Blue city for the preponderance of houses that are painted blue.
We take a heritage walk through the old walled city of Jodhpur, immerse ourselves in the bustling bazaars and take a cooking lesson from husband and wife team Anil and Rekha. We have dinner on our last night in Jodhpur overlooking a renovated step-well.
Our last destination on the tour is Bundi, often referred to as ‘the unexplored part of Rajasthan’. Bundi is rich in natural beauty as well as stunning architecture. It is known for its decorated forts, palaces, and more than 50 step wells. We will visit the highly ornate Raniji ki Baori (Queen’s Step-well) not far from our hotel – a boutique haveli in the heart of new city with views of the old town, palace, fort and lake.
If luck is with us, we may also be able to take in a Bollywood movie in the historic Ranjit Talkies Cinema Hall.
But the main destination of our visit to Bundi pre-dates all of the amazing architecture of the town: pre-historic rock art, believed to be from the Mesolithic period dating back ten thousand years. We will take a guided tour with Kukki, the man who discovered more than 75 sites in the area. An amateur archaeologist and grocery store owner, Kukki has been honoured by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) with the status of ‘honorary archaeologist’.
Bundi cave art
After Bundi, we return to Jaipur for the last day of the tour. There are options to visit more destinations, go shopping in the busy bazaar or rest up before departures the next day.
The full itinerary and cost will be published soon.
(This overview is correct at time of publishing. Some minor changes may occur and will be noted in the final itinerary)
If you are interested in joining this tour, please make contact soon as places are limited to six intrepid travellers.
See the roads we travel :